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No matter how resistant they are and how carefully you take care of them, hardwood floors can get scratches and dents through constant wear and tear. The good news is, you can restore their sleek look by sanding them. But how many times can you sand them?
Generally, you can sand hardwood floors 5-10 times. However, the actual number greatly depends on the hardwood’s strength and quality. Solid hardwood is very resistant to sanding and can withstand sanding up to 10 times. Engineered hardwood, however, isn’t as strong, so it can only be sanded up to 5 times.
Keep reading to learn about the factors that can limit the number of times you can sand your hardwood floor.
Factors To Consider When Sanding Hardwood
There are many factors to consider when sanding a piece of hardwood. That’s because different wood types have different levels of tolerance to sanding.
Thicker and stronger hardwood can be sanded more frequently than hardwood with a slimmer and weaker build. Keep reading as I discuss more on this.
How Thick the Hardwood Layers Are
Wood floors come in different types and thicknesses, affecting the lifespan and, of course, sanding limits. Solid hardwood consists of a single plank, while engineered hardwood floor includes two pieces of wood.
Hardwood floors have a thick and highly sandable plank that’s more durable, too. They have a feature called the wear layer. The wear layer of the hardwood floor is the layer of protection on top of the floor to keep it from wearing down.
Engineered wood floors are less capable of sanding, and some of them aren’t re-finishable at all. That’s because of the thickness of the wear layer that can be different in different types of wood.
Engineered flooring can have a wear layer of up to 5/6″, while solid flooring has an average of 5/6″. The wear layer’s thickness determines how many times you can sand the floor. For example, if the wear layer is less than 1/16″, you should avoid sanding and consider replacing your floor.
Veneered floors are much thinner and generally unsuitable for sanding. If you have this kind of flooring, you should ask the manufacturer if the surface is sandable and how often you can sand it.
If you don’t know what kind of hardwood your floor is, this video can help you determine the type:
As a general rule of thumb, a hardwood floor is sandable 5-10 times, while an engineered floor can be resanded up to 5 times.
Every time you sand your floor, you’ll remove 0.75-1 mm (0.03 to 0.04 in) of the wood’s surface. This number gives you a ballpark idea of how often you can sand your floor based on the wear layer’s thickness. For example, if your wear layer is 4-6 mm (0.16 to 0.24 in), you can sand it 3 to 6 times.
How To Determine the Floor’s Thickness
If you want to know how thick the wear layer is, you can check out the floor from the side or pull out a floor vent. You should do any method of measurement at the floor register. You could also remove the transition moldings to measure the thickness. Locate the board’s tongue and whatever you see above the tongue is sandable.
Another way to check the thickness of your hardwood floor is the business card test. Find a gap between any two boards and put a business card in it. Mark the spot where the card meets the floor’s edge using a pencil. This spot shows the thickness from the top of the board to the tongue.
You could also use feeler gauges to give you an exact measurement of the thickness. For example, this Stainless Steel Feeler Gauge available on Amazon.com is made of stainless steel and comes with 32 blades of varying thickness.
Hardwood Type and How Hard It Is
Hardwood floors are made of different types of wood—red oak, white oak, walnut, cherry, ash, to name a few.
The Janka hardness scale tells you how hard the wood is, giving you a better idea of how much you can sand the wood. The higher the wood’s score on the Janka scale, the tougher the wood.
Plus, the softer the wood, the more dents and scratches, requiring sanding more often.
Your Sanding Skills
Not everyone can sand hardwood floors, no matter how many YouTube videos they watch or how-to articles they read. It’s a skill you should learn through years of experience.
The sanding person needs to know what grit they can use and what abrasive is better for the floor. They should also consider how much wood they remove with every sanding, which is critical in lengthening the floor’s lifespan.
It’s also essential to know all types of flooring wood and to what extent they can withstand sanding. If the person sanding your floors doesn’t have an updated knowledge of the craft (maybe they’re old-schoolers who think every floor is like the solid hardwood floors that belong to the ’50s and can be sanded several times), they can potentially ruin your floors.
Your Hardwood Floors’ Condition
The depth of scratches on the floor and its overall conditions determine how much wood should be removed with each sanding, affecting the number of times you can sand it. The more damaged the surface, the more wood you must remove, and the fewer times you can repeat sanding.
That’s why you should always take good care of your hardwood floor as much as you can. Even if you sand your floor, you can do it more if there’s minimal damage to it.
Type of Sandpaper
Different abrasives and sanders have different degrees of hardness with varying shapes of grains. Some grains have sharper edges, each wearing down the wood differently. Plus, the speed of sanding and cutting through the wood surface is also different with each sandpaper.
Power sanders, belt sanders, disk sanders, and simple sandpaper have different capabilities, efficiencies, and speeds. The sandpaper you use will determine how much wood you remove each time and how much wood is left for future sanding.
If you’re not sure how much wood the sander removes, you can try it out with a small piece of hardwood at a hidden point of a room. Then measure the performance to get a better idea of the whole process.
Even if you know the exact wear layer of your hardwood floor, it’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. They tell you how often you should sand your hardwood floor and how you can do it to get better results.
For example, some manufacturers recommend sanding immediately after installing the floor and then applying oil.
If you’re unsure how well the wood can withstand refinishing, it’s more reasonable to ask for professional help. Sanding a thin hardwood floor will lead to splintering, exposing the nails, and unusable and unsafe floors. Even if the wood is too thin to be sanded, using the expertise of a professional may help you sand your floor in the least damaging way.
The most important factor determining how many times you can sand a hardwood floor is the type of hardwood and its thickness. You can determine the hardwood’s thickness by looking at its wear layer’s thickness.
Generally speaking, engineered hardwood can withstand sanding up to 5 times, while solid hardwood can be sanded up to 10 times.
However, other factors can limit this number. For example, if the wood has deep scratches and dents, you need to go deeper and remove much more wood from the floor while sanding, reducing its thickness.
- Hardwood Floors Mag: Can the Floor Withstand a Resand? Sanding Factory-finished Flooring
- Sizes: Janka Scale
- Carpet Garage: Wear Layers: What they are and why they are important.
- Extreme Floor Care: How many times can a hardwood floor be refinished by Extreme Floor Care.
- Maple Floor: How many times can a floor be sanded down to bare wood?
- Hunker: How to Find Out What Type of Wood Floor You Have
- Empire Today: Refinishing Hardwood Floors 101: When, Why, and How
- YouTube: What Kind of Wood Floors Do You Have?
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Giovanni Valle is an architect, designer, internet entrepreneur, and the managing editor of various digital publications including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place. He is the founder of BuilderSpace LLC.